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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« first aid, day 2 | Main | bdy bash report »

first aid, day 1

Daniel West

In order to get your three-year St. John's Ambulance First Aid/Basic Rescuer certificate, you need to get 70% on three written tests (one at the end of each day) as well as proving that you can do all the exercises in practical demonstration for the instructor. I've passed the first day, two more to go! I didn't even throw up during the Amputations Video, either.

Our instructor is Sebastian, an enthusiastic sort who is obviously heavily experienced in doing this sort of training. His explanations are clear and spiced up with practical examples and humour. First Aid humour can be a little gruesome, it's true, but it definitely helps us trainees from going into shock ourselves as we learn about emergency scene management, shock, unconsciousness, fainting, artificial respiration (adult), choking (adult), and severe bleeding. Today we cover infant/child rescuscitation, cardiovascular emergencies and CPR for adults.


CPR usually doesn't work, Sebastian warns us. Even if CPR is performed within the first four minutes of a person's heart ceasing to beat (after which brain damage can start to occur), there's only a 30% chance of survival. This contradicts the impression I'd gotten from watching too many shows on television where someone who knew CPR was pretty much guaranteed to revive a casualty with a few enthusiastic pushes on the chest.

We are each hooked up with a partner for the practical exercises. My partner is Ilya, a big burly guy with a sweet disposition who is planning to apply for firefighter training. The class also includes an RCMP-in-training, police officers-in-training, paramedics-in-training, and employees who have been sent by the companies to fulfill Ontario's First Aid Regulation 1101. And me. :-)

At first I wish I had a partner who is smaller, closer to my build, but then I realize that in a real-life emergency situation I will probably not have that option, so the practice will be good for me. So Ilya and I rescue each other from choking fits, treat each other for shock, check each other's breathing and pulse.


Because the course basically runs from 9 am to about 4 or 5 pm each day, I'm not getting much writing done except for these morning Blatherings. Pretty much zero e-mail since I'm offline during the day, so please forgive me if I haven't replied to your messages yet.

FYI (and I -know- you're all fascinated by this :-)), here are a few of the interesting things I've learned about choking. We also learned how to perform First Aid on choking people who were much taller, obese, in the late stages of pregnancy, and on ourselves.

- Never hit a choking adult or child over 1 years of age on the back. The impact could trigger an inhalation reflex, which would make the choking worse.

- Since the abdominal thrust (also known as the Heimlich Maneuver, I think) can be painful and cause injury, it should only be used on someone who is choking to the point where they can't talk, cough, or breathe. Sebastian told us about an enthusiastic rescuer who performed the abdominal thrust on a woman in a restaurant who seemed to be choking, but turned out to have just put her hands up to her neck because the string on her necklace had just broken. During practices, we never did the actual thrusts, but just went through the other motions.

- Don't put your head directly behind the other person's when doing First Aid for choking in case the victim's head whips back.

Michelle magnet


The Oxford English Dictionary is looking for science fiction citations in one of its new pilot sites intended to gather words in specialist areas.

Today's Blatherpics:

More photos from Tom's 40th birthday party on Sunday.

-- Daniel West.

-- Child's whiteboard in the West/Sagara household. Stephen King fans may recognize the word in the top left corner. :-)

-- John Chew.

-- Fridge magnet I made for Michelle and Tom about 12 years ago. The original magnet was a portrait of Tom and Michelle in wedding gear. Tom was in a tux, and Michelle in her wedding dress. Obviously, the Michelle magnet you see in the photo has been through a lot of wear and tear (it used to have arms! and two eyes!); Michelle says that Daniel used to like playing with it when he was much younger. She wouldn't tell me what had happened to the Tom magnet which had been attached.

Today's Poll: (Courtesy Sherman Dorn)

Do you have a stereo that can play vinyl albums?

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